Thursday, 6 March 2008

Booking Through Thursday : The Other Side of the Coin

Last week we discussed our favourite female characters... well, Booking Through Thursday have done the sensible thing and evened up the balance - who are your favourite male lead characters?

I found this much more difficult. Most of the novels I read, certainly most of my favourite novels, tend to be written by women and have female protagonists. The empathy lies with the woman, often in the first person, and so the male characters become obstacles or love interests or in some way affect the female. Difficult to treasure a character without empathy. Especially since a lot are in the Rochester / Mr. de Winter model (i.e. quite irritating and bafflingly attractive to women) or Heathcliff model (wholly loathsome) or Mr. Darcy model (ok... but mostly there to track the development of the heroine.)

I'm not getting very far, am I? Would Eeyore count, I wonder? I'm very fond of Norman, the narrator of Miss Hargreaves, but he pales in comparison to Miss H herself. I think I might have to plump for the anonymous narrator of Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, alongside the loveable Mr. Bingley. Why do I have to look so far back to find any male characters who are kind without being pathetic, or witty without being crude? C'mon, novelists, we boys need some role models...


  1. Georgie Pillson (in the Mapp & Lucia series by E.F.Benson).
    Augustus Bosanquet (in _Secret Lives_, also by Benson).

  2. Interesting thought that boys and men need better characters to identify with. I always have a hard time recommending books to boys. I tend to go for adventure stories like Hatchet.

  3. In the Delderfield books (God is an Englishman. A Horseman Riding By etc) I always feel that the men are 3D characters and the women 2D - and just included to illustrate another facet of the central male character.
    But surely, the outright winner has to be Richmael Crompton's William Brown! OVW

  4. I think Eeyore definitely counts, although on a lovely Spring morning like this I find it sad to think you might want him to.

  5. So you're baffled by the female infatuation with the "bad boy," eh Simon?! Not sure I can express it well, but there's something about the "good girls don't" thing, maybe. It's just so opposite of what women are raised to be, so different from the men a girl would generally marry. Maybe it's a sowing of the wild oats? There we go. I'll stick with that!

  6. Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, definitely.
    Also Perrin in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, Captain Hastings in Agatha Christie. Romeo & Paris in Romeo & Juliet.
    Oh, and Mr. Funny. But are we counting non-fiction?

    Isn't the narrator of Three Men in a Boat called Jerome? I seem to remember people referring to him as J or similar.

  7. Atticus Finch! Thanks, for that, Colin. I couldn't dredge up much since my preferred reading tends to be humorous - that, or espionage and detective stories, though I didn't offer any from those categories. I won't detour there other than maybe with Lovejoy. :-)


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